The Playstation 3
had no shortage of exclusives over its seven year run. And while an awful lot of them were safe bets (Resistance
) and sure things (God of War
) every so often a deliciously ambitious experiment would pop up.
These projects always offered something radically different from the norm, be it narrative presentation, user interface, multi-play interaction or something so fundamental as Game-Gamer communication.
It’s the sheer level of aspiration, married with execution, AND NOT final build quality that secures the highest ranking here. This is a compilation of the PS3’s greatest experiments, not achievements.
Basically, we’re handing out free kudos to those brave enough to try something different (and competent enough not to bugger it up ireperably!)
7.Thatgamecompany - 2009
Experiment: Forget narrative; removing any conscious sense of objective or progression in favour of evoking a sense of tranquillity is ambition in my book. Flower may not be the most high octane entry on this/any list, but it’s a perfectly lovely accomplishment all the same.
6.Quantic Dream – 2010
Experiment: If Quantic Dream is to be believed, EMOTIONS are the future. The development team believe this so adamantly they threw AAA resources and marketing into what is basically a point and click adventure speckled with QTEs.
If you ask me, Heavy Rain is a bit of a mess, with nonsensical twists, frustrating interfaces and a too-sombre script. But damned if it’s not a unique, aspirational, boundary pushing one too!
Zipper Interactive – 2010
Experiment: A multiplayer FPS is no mould-breaker. But when battles include 256 online players, a hierarchical experience based command structure and ongoing, faction-based campaigns, it’s clear MAG aint no by-the-numbers, dial-it-in Multiplayer.
Three years on, its community couldn’t withstand Call of Duty’s annual carpet bombing. But the fanbase persists! Coupled with an arsenal of firearms, classes, vehicles and the ebb and flow of 200+ strategic engagements, unlike most shooters, MAG nails the militarism it so blatantly mimics.
4.Thatgamecompany – 2012
Experiment: Though less abstract and more focused than Flower before it, Journey
honours its nonfigurative roots by dropping players in a constantly churning desert and leaving them to their own devices.
Fellow travellers can be encountered, though standard communication is restricted to musical chirps, forcing innate intuition to the fore. A tenuous narrative is present and accounted for, but as the name suggests the focus is on surfing sand dunes, riding air currents and exploring the minimalist environs.
And people lapped it up!
3.Media Molecule – 2008
Little Big Planet
Experiment: At the time of writing, there are 8,056,052 user generated Little Big Planet
levels. Sure, this might be across two (or even three, Vita) titles. Optimistically, half that number may not even be worth the 120 seconds it takes to complete them. But this hardly diminishes the achievement.
In October 2008, Media Molecule decided to let everyone, EVERYONE, become a games developer. The level builder was hard to get to grips with. The core platforming was a bit floaty, a bit fidgety.
Yet, the sheer breadth of varied, charming, unique, quality content to emerge from the LBP experiment is proof enough of its success.
2.From Software – 2009
Experiment: Where to begin...
Demon’s Souls tendered a deep, innovative online experience by deleting the aggravation of bickering voice chatter.
Demon’s Souls presented precision controls but demanded you master them.
Demon’s Souls provided a robust progression system with immediately tangible effects.
Demon’s Souls urged co-operation while threatening griefers.
Demon’s Souls telegraphed its myriad dangers not with signposts (unless they were user generated) but with the bloodstains of pre-butchered players.
Demon’s Souls suggested a wild fantastical narrative but refused to bludgeon you with exposition.
Demon’s Souls was fresh.
Demon’s Souls was fair.Demon’s Souls
was wholly unafraid to smack the shit out of gamers.
God, bless it for that.
1.SCE Japan Studio - 2012
Experiment: I’m not gonna even try and explain this one...
We all know this has no right to exist. We’re all thoroughly delighted that it does. It’s the perfect allegory (and antidote) to the super-sober unoriginality of (say) The Last of Us, and manages to easily outstrip it in terms of gameplay depth, choice and design.Tokyo Jungle
is the ultimate in WTF gaming, because its unparalleled lunacy hooks you in, while its diverse, immensely satisfying survival mechanics retain your devotion.
But ultimately, my prevailing response is...HOW ARE YOU A REAL THING AND WHO CAN I THANK FOR THAT FACT!?